Blue Eagles win over Adamson, 73-67, clinch twice-to-beat advantage in the Final 4

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THE ATENEO Blue Eagles ended their eliminations campaign a victory over the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 73-67, on Wednesday, November 16 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

With their sixth straight victory, the Blue Eagles clinch the second seed with a 10-4 record behind De La Salle University (DLSU). This merits them a twice-to-beat advantage heading into the semifinal round against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws.

On the other hand, the Soaring Falcons fall to fourth place at 8-6 and will be facing the top-seed DLSU in the semifinals.

Thirdy Ravena led the way for the Blue Eagles, as he finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. Mike Nieto followed by contributing 12 points and eight boards. Other notable performers were Adrian Wong, who scored perfect 3/3 from downtown en route to 12 points, and big man Isaac Go who had nine points and eight rebounds, six of which were on the offensive glass.

Papi Sarr dominated the paint for Adamson with 17 points and 23 boards, whilst JD Tungcab and Robbie Manalang finished with 16 and 12 markers, respectively.

In the first quarter, Adamson put Ateneo on the back foot through a 9-1 run capped off by a bomb from beyond the arc by rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi. The Blue Eagles then bounced back with a triple from Mike Nieto and a 5-0 run by Ravena to bring the score within two. However, the Falcons got their lead back up to seven (10-17), but a long two by Raffy Verano and a corner triple by Matt Nieto reduced the deficit again to two at the end of the first quarter (15-17).

The Blue Eagles tied the game at 17-all when Verano spun and scored the first points of the second period. The Falcons, however, regained control through a Tungcab triple and charities by Jonathan Espeleta. Although Rob Manalang’s layup kept Adamson’s lead at five, long-range bombs from Adrian Wong and Mike Nieto gave the Blue Eagles their first lead of the game at 25-24, with 2:57 left in the second quarter. Adamson then took possession of the game with a 9-1 run before Ravena was able to bank in the final shot of the quarter, as the Blue Eagles trailed 28-33 going into the half time interval.

The Blue Eagles came within one after Wong was able to race out for a layup (40-41). A 5-1 Adamson run placed distance once again between the two teams, but the Blue Eagles were able to cut the deficit to one with a runner by Matt Nieto (46-47). The Blue and White then scored six straight through a finish in transition by Matt Nieto and free throws by Ravena and Black to nab the lead again late in the quarter (52-50). Espeleta, however, buried a triple for the Falcons to lead by a single point at the end of the third (52-53).

After trading baskets to begin the fourth quarter, Ateneo was able to string together eight straight points through Verano, Mike Nieto, Go, and Ikeh to take a commanding 62-55 lead. However, the Blue Eagle frontline took a blow when Ikeh was fouled out with 5:13 left in the game. The Falcons threatened to come back as Sarr’s putback off Manganti’s missed free throw brought them within three, but Go’s bucket from a Ravena’s assist kept the Falcons at bay (64-59). The officials, at the 3:04 mark, called a timeout after Wong rolled his left ankle on a defensive play. This, however, did not faze the Blue and White, as Ravena found Go on the inside for a two and enforced a tip-in, putting the Blue Eagles up, 68-59, with 2:01 left in the game. After Adamson scored three points from free throws, Mike Nieto was able to clean up on the offensive glass to put the game out of reach at 70-62 with 31.3 seconds remaining.

After the game, Coach Sandy Arespacochaga praised his players for staying focused to earn the hard-fought win in spite of the very good performance from Adamson.

“You could see the effort. It [was not] really a beautiful game in terms of our field goal percentage. It become a defensive game, and we had to grind it out.” Said Coach Arespacochaga

The Blue Eagles were at 26/77 from the field for 33.77% whilst the Soaring Falcons shot 21/58 for 36.21%

Mike Nieto also highlighted the importance of the twice-to-beat advantage saying: “Yun yung pinagpatayan namin for today. We wanted that so bad [that is] why hanggang dulo talagang nakikita ninyo naman na talagang patayan kami. (This was what we had been fighting for today. We wanted it so bad [that is] why you can see that it was a fight until the end).”

Quarter Scores: (Ateneo-AdU) 15-17, 28-33, 52-53, 73-67

Box Score:

Ateneo: Ravena- 14, M. Nieto- 12, Wong- 12, Go- 9, J. Nieto- 7, Verano- 6, Black- 5, Ikeh- 4, Tolentino- 4, Asistio- 1

Adamson: Sarr- 17, Tungcab- 16, Manalang- 12, Ahanmisi- 7, Espeleta- 7, Manganti- 7

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